Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Prunes - Harvest Time Again

I have always enjoyed prunes. Sunsweet bags were sweet as candy and one of my favorite dried fruits growing up. So when it is the day to harvest prunes, you better believe I walked down with the kids to watch.

Now, don't quibble over terminology. These are prunes... prune trees grow prunes. Not plums. Plums are far different... and so are dried plums. When these gorgeous fruit are dried we still call them prunes.

Now, if you haven't seen a prune harvest you are in for a real treat. It is like nothing I have ever watched before. This year the trees were loaded down with ripe fruit. Several of the trees already broke under the weight. It is an older orchard but this year proved it can still produce.

There were already many littered on the ground. The local wildlife takes advantage of the bounty and have left evidence of it being a busy place.

There are two parts to picking. Two machines with two separate drivers and other workers to help out. On the right is the shaker. That arm comes out and goes around the trunk of the tree. The driver is (semi-) protected by a slanted platform that extends out to the trunk when in place. As the machine shakes the tree, the prunes fall and roll down into the receiver machine.

On the left is the receiver. It catches the fruit and rolls it down the conveyor and up and into the bin.

My husband was driving the machine on the left and two men were at the bin in the back to help pick out twigs and excess leaves. It is impressive to watch the prunes rain down onto the machines.

When the bins were full, they were put on the back of the semi-truck and a new bin was brought to fill.

So many bins!

I love to eat them raw off the tree, but drying really concentrates the sugars and flavor. I can't wait to see these prunes make their way back to our market, dried and packaged.

The kids had a blast watching how everything worked. Have you ever had the chance to watch something be harvested? What would you like to see?

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